Three weeks ago, Warren Cole Smith claimed "conscientious objector" status in the war on Christmas and used the American Family Association as his prime example of Christian groups attempting to "defend the holiday from the forces of secularism."
Bryan Fischer, the AFA's director of issues analysis, wrote to us saying that he believes Warren is "effectively abandoning the entire battlefield to the forces of secular fundamentalism" and offers the following defense of the work of the AFA:
Smith lodges three criticisms at us. First, he argues that we shouldn't urge retailers to acknowledge the reason for the season since Christmas has become an "orgiastic spending spree" and nothing more than "commercial debauchery."
With this complaint we have no objection. Many Americans, of course, make foolish financial decisions during the holiday season and spend money they don't have for things they can't afford. I might ask Mr. Smith exactly how taking even more attention away from Christ this time of year is going to help with that.
But for many families, including my own, Christmas spending is done carefully and prudently and as an expression of genuine love and affection for family members. One of the great delights of the Christmas season I experience is giving gifts to people I love and watching their faces light up with pleasure as they enjoy what they have received. Mr. Smith is perilously close to Grinch territory here.
Secondly, he does a lexical study on the word "Christmas" and concludes that since it apparently is rooted in Catholicism and was also an excuse for heavy partying, we should forgo the contemporary use of the term altogether. And he adds for good measure that since the Puritans banned Christmas, we should in some measure follow suit.
Well, whatever people used to think of when the word "Christmas" popped up, secularists are determined to stamp out its use today, and I doubt it's because it signifies either debauchery or their sudden embrace of Puritan values. Secular fundamentalists want to get rid of "Christmas" because it's the one day a year all of America officially pauses to remember the nativity of Jesus Christ.
Since that is its meaning and use today, regardless of its etymology, the plain fact is that when "Christmas" is banned from advertising, school calendars, and school programs, people instinctively know it is connected to an aversion to Christian spirituality. They know what Mr. Smith has apparently lost in his lexical studies, that the ban on Christmas is part and parcel of the secular attack on the public acknowledgment of God.
Lastly, and perhaps most perniciously, Mr. Smith accuses the AFA of crass commercialism because we sell Christmas buttons. Yet he is identified at the foot of the column as the author of a book, A Lover's Quarrel with the Evangelical Church. I assume he hopes people buy his book, and that he benefits from the proceeds. So he seems to think it is OK if he prospers from writing about the gospel, but doesn't think others should. This is inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst.
He concludes by agreeing with us that the battles over abortion, pornography, and same-sex marriage are worth fighting, and that we can count on him to be a fellow-soldier in these battles, battles the AFA has been waging for over 30 years now. That's great news, and we welcome Mr. Smith to the trenches.
The main difference here is that Mr. Smith appears ready to lay down his arms in the battle over the one day a year the left wants to expunge from the American calendar because it explicitly refers to Jesus Christ. This means that Mr. Smith is AWOL in the battle that may be the most important of them all.